Melrose Place to Wisteria Lane: Real Life Love


Laura Leighton and Doug Savant: From Melrose Place to real life love.

Around that time, his parents were in a religious store, buying a present for a baptism. They spotted a medal of a saint who was unknown to them. Who was he? St. Genesius—patron saint of actors. "We’ll take two," they said.

Steady work began to come in soon after the saint showed up. Savant's not taking any chances: He rarely removes his medal.

By 2005, Savant and Leighton were both employed on primetime shows, they had three kids in three schools, and they had no significant household help. They operated off a school calendar taped to the refrigerator and prayed that they'd never have crucial scenes on their sets at the same time. Ninety percent of the time, that worked. Only once did Savant have to bring a child with him to Desperate Housewives and Leighton have to rush over at lunch from her show, Eyes, to bring the kid home.

Their Morgan Stanley guy—you know, the one uncommonly dedicated to their well-being—actually asked them if Savant's sudden return to prominence had inspired a buying spree. Like, say, new cars. Savant and Leighton didn't remind him of the critical math: the lean years between 1997, when their Melrose Place gigs ended, and 2004, when Desperate Housewives showed up. And despite the way that his role has grown, Savant points out, "This isn't Friends. I'm not a desperate housewife. I'm a husband on Desperate Housewives."

That hard-headed realism makes sense for a couple with four children—Arianna and Maddy, 14 and 12, from Savant’s first marriage, plus six-year-old Jack and baby Lucy—but it's rare to hear successful actors speak so candidly. "A hit show gives you the appearance of prosperity," Leighton notes. "We get by," Savant adds. "We're not yet getting ahead." The three of us giggle as we speak the single word that is going to terrify them for decades: tuition. We laugh more heartily at other, more encouraging words: residuals … syndication … back end.